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Five-fold increase in Redbridge asylum seekers made homeless by Home Office in three years, figures reveal

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 April 2019

Sajid Javid outside the Home Office in Westminster, London, after he was appointed as the new Home Secretary.

Sajid Javid outside the Home Office in Westminster, London, after he was appointed as the new Home Secretary.

PA Wire/PA Images

Twenty-eight asylum seekers were made homeless last year after being evicted from their Home Office accommodation in Redbridge.

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Figures from Redbridge Council’s latest homelessness strategy reveal the number of people accepted as homeless after being “required to leave accommodation by the Home Office as asylum support” has jumped from five in 2015/16 to 28 in 2017/18.

The council is monitoring the situation, the report states, “given Redbridge has the most asylum seekers of any London borough”.

James Tullett, chief executive of the Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (Ramfel), told the Recorder it is difficult to pinpoint what is behind this spike without further details on why asylum seekers are being evicted.

But he added: “The fact that people only have 28 days between receiving refugee status and being removed from their accommodation has been an issue for at least a decade unfortunately.”

He expressed concerns about the way housing association Clearsprings, which manages the Home Office’s 111 properties in Redbridge, handles evictions.

He described one instance, around six weeks ago, where a family with two disabled children were almost wrongly evicted due to an “administrative mistake” by the Home Office.

“In this case there was absolute disregard for their wellbeing,” he said.

The family were served an eviction notice after their asylum application had been rejected.

But this notice was overturned with the support of Ramfel as the family had lodged an appeal with the Home Office, meaning that they are still entitled to asylum support.

When approached by the Recorder about the case, a Clearsprings spokeswoman said it is the housing association’s policy not to provide a comment.

She also would not detail what processes are in place to support people evicted from accommodation.

Cllr Farah Hussain, cabinet member for housing and homelessness, said the council is doing all it can to prevent asylum seekers becoming homeless.

“We are in regular contact with the Home Office about this situation and working closely with them to support asylum seekers who find themselves homeless,” she said.

“The Home Office have now agreed to reduce the amount of accommodation used for asylum seekers in the borough.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with free, fully furnished accommodation while applications are considered.

“Where an asylum seeker has received refugee status, they are eligible to work, receive mainstream benefits and accommodation.

“We work with local authorities to ensure that any asylum seeker who has been granted status gets the onward support they need.

“Where someone has no right to remain in the United Kingdom it is right that they should leave the country.

“However if an asylum claim has failed, we will continue to provide support, including accommodation, where a failed applicant is unable to leave the UK.”

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